Earl de Blonville is a great, but unsung, Australian hero, courageous, strong, confident, and with outstanding leadership qualifications. Seventh Journey is a powerful account of an expedition that he led to East Greenland in 1986.
Australia has had a long involvement in Antarctica, and the achievements of Douglas Mawson and Phillip Law are widely recognised. However, with the exception of the controversial Hubert Wilkins, there has been little Australian involvement with the Arctic.
When Earl de Blonville began planning his expedition he set up an Australian Advisory Panel, which included Dr Phillip Law, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Sir John Holland, John Bertrand and Dr Eleanor Rymill, for whom his vessel was named. As Australia’s then Minister for Science I was happy to join, and secured some Government recognition and assistance.
Earl also recruited support from Britain, where his patrons included The Prince of Wales, Lord Shackleton - son of the great Ernest - and the polar explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs.
Seventh Journey is a powerful story of privation, courage, obstinacy and tenacity, full of sharp insights, vividly written, well illustrated with useful maps - an unvarnished record of a major achievement. The expedition took place 23 years ago, but the story, with its freshness and immediacy, is timeless, demonstrating what charismatic leadership can achieve, against all odds.
Professor Barry Jones
Graduate School of education
University of Melbourne